Today, companies bear more responsibility than ever before. In the past, the only expectation of a company was that they provided a quality service or product and saw a profit. Now, it’s expected (both ethically and legally) that companies take responsibility for their social and environmental impact.
Although sustainability and social responsibility are becoming a legal requirement—as shown by regulatory ideas like Extended Producer Responsibility—voluntary corporate responsibility actions are shown to greatly improve customer loyalty. In fact, not only are customers more inclined to support a business due to that company’s social and environmental actions, but they are also more inclined to feel higher self-esteem and an identification with the company, both of which are shown to encourage purchases.
If your business is to remain competitive in the modern market, it must cultivate customer loyalty by making responsible choices beyond what’s expected. Here’s a quick guide to why customer loyalty is important and how corporate responsibility can cultivate strong company-customer bonds.
Customer loyalty seems like a straightforward idea—it’s the repeated purchase of a company’s products or services—but there’s a lot that goes into the cultivation and maintenance of a customer’s commitment.
Beyond the guarantee of future purchases, customer loyalty is important for a number of reasons.
- Signing on new customers is five times more expensive than keeping existing ones.
- Loyal customers recommend your products and services to their friends and family. A 2018 study showed that 83% of Americans are more likely to make a purchase based off of a recommendation from someone they trust.
- Loyal customers are more likely to purchase your products more often. In fact, “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%,” according to the Harvard Business School.
Humans are social creatures, and people want to feel as though they are part of a community. When you work on creating customer loyalty, you’re not just providing a service or product that your customers love, but you’re also making them feel a part of something greater. This creates a positive psychological response that encourages commitment.
The key factors of customer loyalty
Cultivating customer loyalty isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s something that takes time, patience, and a deep understanding of your target customers.
Some key components of customer loyalty include the following.
- Excellent products or services
- A sense of community
- High-quality customer service
- Rewards for their loyalty
- Corporate responsibility and the company’s commitment to the community
Cultivation of customer loyalty requires transparency and authenticity. Customers today are savvy, and empty promises will be noticed and called out. Companies must be able to back their claims, and their corporate responsibility must keep up-to-date with current social and environmental standards. Their commitment to social and environmental goals must be lasting, and strategies must consistently change to maintain relevance.
Corporate social responsibility and customer loyalty
The European Commission defines corporate social responsibility as “actions by companies over and above their legal obligations towards society and the environment.” It encourages companies to not only take responsibility for their social and environmental impact but to take additional action to help build a better world for everyone.
It’s become such an important feature of customer loyalty that 90% of Forbes 500 companies are involved in CSR. Data confirms its significance. In a 2020 survey, 68% of respondents said that a brand needs to align with their values in order for them to stay loyal. An article by Forbes in 2018 stated that 88% of consumers want you to help them make a difference. It’s clear, then, that companies must claim responsibility for their social and environmental impact if they want to remain competitive.
Corporate responsibility not only builds customer loyalty, but it also builds customer-company identification (when a customer feels as though a company has similar attributes and values as the company). In many ways, customer-company identification is more powerful than customer loyalty. It goes beyond repeated purchases. A customer who identifies with a company feels connected to company culture. The company has become a part of their own self-esteem. When the company makes a positive impact, the customer feels as though they have done something good as well. Ultimately, this encourages the customer to support the company, to become an ambassador for the company by recommending their products, and makes the company more competitive overall.
When it comes to corporate responsibility, you must go above and beyond. Customers don’t want companies to simply do the bare minimum. Companies must constantly strive to do better. It takes commitment and intelligent strategizing. Sustainability strategies take time to design and implement; if your company is only just beginning its sustainability journey, it will take time before it can claim good corporate responsibility. While your company works on its CSR strategies, it can partner with companies like TONTOTON.
Corporate social responsibility and partnering with TONTOTON
TONTOTON offers a way for your company to take responsibility for its plastic waste through a certified plastic credit system. It works like this: your company purchases plastic credits in at least an equal amount as the plastic waste that it produces, and those plastic credits fund projects that remove plastic waste from the environment.
But, TONTOTON goes beyond that. Additionality is key to any environmental project, and our projects offer social benefits alongside the environmental benefits. We employ individuals in the communities in which we work, providing competitive wages, training, personal protective equipment, and access to healthcare to those who pick up plastic waste. In Vietnam and Cambodia, the collection of waste is often left to the private sector, leaving waste pickers vulnerable to the dangers of the job. Furthermore, they do not have someone to advocate for them, leaving them with wages unsuitable to support their families. Through our work, those who work with us have been able to better support themselves and their families and enjoy safe working conditions.
Furthermore, we focus on a type of plastic waste that has previously been ignored: post-consumer, low-value plastic (what we call orphan plastic). Including plastic items like single-use utensils, bags, and water bottles, orphan plastic cannot be easily recycled, so until now, it has been ignored by waste pickers. Through plastic credit funding, we are able to purchase orphan plastic and send it to cement factories where it is co-processed: converted into energy and raw materials.
Our projects provide much-needed income to individuals in vulnerable communities while removing dangerous plastic waste from the environment. When you partner with TONTOTON, you can show your customers that you are committed to both sustainability and social projects. It allows you to take responsibility for your environmental impact today while strategizing further sustainability strategies.